Apple tells Epic Games it won’t allow Fortnite back into the App Store until verdict is finalized

Earlier this month, the judge overseeing the legal action between Apple and Epic Games came to a decision. With it, it mostly ruled in Apple’s favor — with the exception of one major ruling. However, there is still room for appeals. And Epic Games is even appealing one of the decisions on its own. As a result, it’s not quite as finalized as some might hope, including Apple and Epic.

With room still for appeals, a “final decision” has yet to be made. And, as a result, Apple has decided that while things are still getting figured out, it’s not prepared to let the mega-popular battle royale game Fortnite back into the App Store. This revelation was made public by Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney on Twitter recently, who said that Epic had “agreed” to follow Apple’s rules for the App Store moving forward.

According to Sweeney, he emailed Apple’s Phil Schiller directly and informed the Apple executive that Epic Games was ready to play by Apple’s rules. He requested that the Epic Games developer account be reinstated, saying that Epic would adhere to Apple’s published App Store guidelines wherever Epic products were released.

Sweeney went on to say that it would only bring Fortnite back to the App Store (even with Apple’s acquiescence to bring it back) if Apple followed the orders of the court. Meaning, Epic Games will only bring Fortnite back to the App Store if Apple follows the language presented by the court’s decision, meaning Apple needs to add “buttons and external links” to company options for payments, outside of Apple’s own first-party payment option.

Basically, Epic Games will bring Fortnite back if it can add its own payment options (or links to options) in its game, the thing that got Epic Games booted from the App Store to begin with.

Here’s Sweeney’s initial tweet, saying Apple “lied” about bringing Fortnite back.

As it stands, Apple has not yet decided if it plans to appeal the court’s decision as it relates to in-app payment options. As a refresher, the court ruled that Apple must allow for other forms of in-app purchase options, which includes links and/or buttons. These can be implemented alongside Apple’s first-party in-app payment option. The company has until December to implement these changes, barring any appeals from Apple’s side.

Apple’s argument for barring Fortnite until this whole matter is wrapped up –which can take years— is due to several reasons. That includes Sweeney’s own public statements following the court’s decisions, and “duplicitous conduct in the past” on the company’s part. It’s worth pointing out that, part of its ruling indicated that Apple does not have to reinstate Fortnite because Epic Games breached its contract with Apple in the first place. Which means it’s up to Apple’s discretion from here on out.

This probably won’t be resolved anytime soon, frankly. Most interestingly will be how Apple moves forward, wither they implement the changes ordered by the court, or if they appeal.

The timeline

August 13, 2020

  • Epic Games updates Fortnite on the server-side, bypassing the App Store review process. It adds a direct payment option, breaking another rule in the process.
  • Apple removes Fortnite from the App Store due to Epic Games breaking the App Store rules.
  • Epic Games launches a media blitz, and it also sues Apple for anti-competitive behavior.
  • Epic launches “Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite”, a parody video of Apple’s original “1984” ad:

  • Google removes Fortnite from the Play Store, as Epic Games also violated the Play Store’s rules.
  • Epic sues Google, too.
  • Spotify weighs in! Unsurprisingly, it applauds Epic Games for its decision to stand up against Apple.

August 14, 2020

  • Facebook says Apple’s App Store fees make it impossible to help small businessesimpacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

August 17, 2020

  • Apple threatens to revoke Epic Games’ developer accounts for not only iOS, but also macOS. That cut-off is set to take place on Friday, August 28, 2020.

August 18, 2020

August 20, 2020

  • The Wall Street Journal and other news publications sign an open letter asking for Apple to reduce its App Store fees down to a standard 15%.

August 21, 2020

  • Epic Games promotes the #FreeFortnite Cup, or tournament, that is meant to bring even more attention against Apple, and is promoting “anti-Apple” prizes.
  • Epic sought special treatment for Fortnite before it declared war against Apple and the App Store’s guidelines.

August 24, 2020

  • Judge Gonzalez-Rogers rules that Apple does not need to reinstate Fortnite back into the App Store as the legal battle wages on. The judge also rules that Apple cannot revoke the Unreal Engine development tools, but it can still move forward with removing Epic’s developer account for iOS and macOS.
  • Apple says it agrees with the ruling made by Judge Gonzalez-Rogers, and is prepared to welcome Fortnite back onto iOS as soon as Epic Games is ready to follow the App Store guidelines.

August 26, 2020

  • Epic confirms that the new season of Fortnite, which is Marvel-themed, will not be available on iOS or Mac. Cross-platform functionality with those platforms is also removed.

August 28, 2020

September 8, 2020

September 9, 2020

  • Epic Games says Apple is going to disable the “Sign in with Apple” feature as soon as Friday, September 11.
  • Apple changes its mind regarding “Sign in with Apple”, allows existing customers to keep using it.

September 10, 2020

September 18, 2020

September 24, 2020

  • Epic Games, Spotify, Tile, and other companies create the “Coalition for App Fairness” to take on Apple’s and Google’s digital storefront policies.

September 28, 2020

October 7, 2020

  • Judge rules that the court battle between Apple and Epic Games will resume in May 2021.

November 5, 2020

  • Fortnite returns to iOS thanks to GeForce Now game streaming service, and only available via Safari.

December 17, 2020

  • Judge orders both Tim Cook and Craig Federighi to testify in the legal battle between Apple and Epic Games.

December 21, 2020

January 14, 2021

February 1, 2021

  • Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, is ordered to sit through a 7-hour deposition

February 10, 2021

February 22, 2021

February 25, 2021

  • After some delay, a judge ruled that Valve has to hand over requested documentation to Apple

March 1, 2021

  • Apple and Epic Games’ trial may be in person, and it is set to start in May

April 5, 2021

April 27, 2021

April 28, 2021

April 28, 2021

September 10, 2021